This morning, we found a new heifer calf curled up in a corner of the calving paddock. She’d been licked clean but judging by her tucked up sides, she hadn’t had a drink. Why not? Her mum was nowhere to be seen. This is not uncommon – cows often leave their calves in remote spots while they go off to have a feed or a drink, so we got the calf up and tried to attract the mother cow’s attention with our best imitation of plaintive-sounding calf noises (not “moo” but something like “mmmmbeaaaaargh”).
Two aunties immediately rushed over. We call cows that haven’t calved but would love to steal someone else’s poddy an “aunty” and they can be exceedingly convincing. Not this time. They still had bulging bellies and no sign that anything had been recently stretched (IYKWIM). The mother was clearly not particularly maternal and was still waiting for her milk to come in properly.
The only thing to do was to organise a line-up. Cows due to calve within the next three weeks get a daily ration of grain that is half what they’ll get when they rejoin the herd in the dairy, so we spread their breakfast out and did an inspection. Who do you think it was?